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"What's happening?" Ahmik asked impatiently. "What's going on?"

I sighed, looking away from the binoculars for a moment to glance at Ahmik. Brick and he were like brothers, and I felt a little bad knowing that he couldn't do anything to help Brick in this currently situation but my frustration easily pushed that sympathy aside. Honestly, I didn't want to have to deal with him. I wish he'd go downstairs and talk to someone who actually wanted to talk to him because I sure as hell didn't.

"Brick knows what he's doing. Why don't you go inside and start your chores?" I suggested, tossing the binoculars off to the side as I felt myself losing interest in keeping watch.

"I'm not doing some stupid chores!" Ahmik shouted in defiance. "How about this, why did you both take so long? All you had to do was help Finn and you both were gone a lot longer than you said you were!"

"What we do outside of the gates have nothing to do with you, Ahmik!" I raised my voice to the teenage boy before exhaling loudly with an attempt to talk a bit more calmer. "Just go inside and find Elika, ok?"

"What aren't you telling us?" His voice rose in volume as he argued back. "Why are you up here anyway? Elika and Seth are downstairs with everyone else, and I'll bet she doesn't even know you both just got back an hour ago!"


His eyes had grown wide, his entire body had become tense and unable to move the slightest muscle. It wasn't until he had looked as though he were going to vomit that I realized I may have changed and allowed my anger to get the best of me again.

"Ahmik," I raised my hands in front of him slowly and laid a single hand on his shoulder, to show him that I meant no harm but I had only made it worse and caused his entire body to start to tremble in fear. "Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you, ok?"

He was barely breathing before I heard the familiar ding of the elevator.

Attuned to the noise, I shifted my head to the side to find out who had come up.

She'd been wearing a shoulder-less light gray sweater with jean, and I also noticed she had sports tape wrapped around her feet which meant she'd probably just finished training with Ana. They liked to call it dancing but I liked to call it martial arts, especially with the way I've seen her use it to kick some serious ass in the past. The unique style comes in handy when we spar together, but Ana... well, she did it to spend time with Elika.

Aside from the one phone call while Brick and I were out, I hadn't actually seen her in a while. We've all been busy lately, so even if I had stuck around long enough, we just didn't have the time to spend with each other because of our crap schedules.

When she was awake, I was asleep. 

When I was awake, she was asleep.

I swear I was going to find her as soon as we had gotten back home but I guess I just wanted to be alone for a while longer.

"Ahmik?" She questioned his presence as she approached the both of us. "Hey, are you ok? He didn't hurt you, did he?" Her voice was filled with motherly concern but only because she knew that I couldn't exactly control myself these days. Of course, she also knew that Ahmik was scared shitless already.

Before she could reach out to him further, Ahmik had snapped out of his paralysis and took off toward the elevator. The smashing of buttons wasn't very subtle but I wasn't too worried about him. Sure, he was a troubled kid from time-to-time but he was as tough as nails too.

There was a moment of heavy silence, and yet neither of us said a word to try and clear the air. Between the both of us, there was really nothing left to say because of my new... assets.

"Sam," I glanced over to find her eyes focused on mine. "Your eyes are-"

"I figured," I stopped her from saying it and looked elsewhere as my wrists began to ache. Quietly, I began trying to pop the joints just to keep the pain away as I talked with Elika. "But there's nothing I can do. I don't know how to turn it off or whatever. It just happens, and sometimes it's just too much."

"I know," She spoke softly as her gaze shifted onto my hands, observing what's become the usual routine: the aftermath of a monster.

"So," She glanced off to the side briefly and attempted to change the subject with a rather teasing tone. "What'd you do besides try and throw Ahmik off the roof again?"

"My little brother's more of a man than he'll ever be," I exhaled with all seriousness.

"They're kids," She laughed and combed her fingers through my hair as I took a deep breath and forced my hands down to my side. "They've been locked in for the last few weeks because of the town scare. They're just bored inside the building, I promise, and Ahmik seems to think confronting you directly will let him run freely outside."

"Wait, what town scare?"

"No one seems to know exactly what happened," Her voice became more serious. "Sage closed their gates last week and their military isn't letting a lot of people in. Most of their usual traders have been stopping at our gates looking for what their own community needs."

Sage used to be known as Blue Springs in the District of Missouri, but that wasn't quite the case anymore. Their gates were closed for a few years after the new town was founded. Eventually, they re-opened them and began to welcome others but you absolutely couldn't live there without their proof of citizenship which was fine with me, I guess. Trading goods was about all the town was good for really.

Well... that and getting paid for manual labor with hot food and a bed, assuming you didn't have it already.

"Was there at-least anything useful?" I asked curiously. Surely someone visiting had something that we would've traded without question.

"I wouldn't know about that," She answered softly. "All I know is that Ian told Mark and Freddy to keep turning them all away until you and Brick got back. You three are the only ones everyone can trust to watch whatever inventory we have left."

"Honestly, if our inventory is still the same as it was when I left, we probably don't have much to offer," I sighed heavily. "We can't even let newcomers in because the last guy that walked through the gate was a trigger-happy idiot, and we don't need people we can't trust around all the kids here anyway."

"Guess you'll just have to take a break then and come see Seth," She gave a small, encouraging smile. "He hasn't seen his father in a while."

"I know," I reached out both hands with a soft sigh and held her face gently. "But first, what about you? Are those people still giving you and Seth a hard time because I'd be more than happy to set some people straight if you-"

"I'm fine, Sam." Elika gave a soft sigh and smiled. "I can handle a few dirty looks and an attitude every-now-and-then. Besides, I'm not as worried about me as I am about Seth. If any of them were to say something to him then things would be different."

"Do I need to be worried?" I asked, unintentionally raising my voice. If anyone was giving Seth a hard time, I'd end it right then and there. No one should be hating either of them. In fact, they should only be hating me.

She responded with a closed-lip smile as her body became tense. Elika wasn't telling me something and if she didn't want to tell me, then I wouldn't be finding out any time soon. But the answer- her answer- was pretty clear.

Together, we walked back towards the elevators and began to travel back down the series of floors within the the place we had eventually called home.

The hospital was a place we'd taken refuge from the wave of hounds only a few months ago. It was a good eight to nine stories tall but we only kept the first three floors open to our people for their own safety and locked down the rest. Still, it didn't keep the kids from breaking rules and going wherever they wanted. Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough adults to watch over everyone- that responsibility fell onto the teenagers, not that they took the role very seriously. But like Elika said before, they're just kids.

It wasn't too long before we arrived on the ground floor and exited the elevator, but I guess we were heard because my younger brother had already come flying in.

"Baby bro," I greeted Damien as he responded with a goofy grin of his own.

He'd been jumping up and down with anticipation after skidding to a complete stop. He was a spitting image of our father really, even if he did look a lot younger than him. Me? I had my mother in me, or so I've been told. But as far as talents go, neither of us were gifted. But we were both lucky to not have to deal with the burden of living with the talents of a Nephilim. It was too much of a hassle, and neither of us needed anything from our deadbeat mom.

"Sam!" Damien greeted me cheerfully. "You guys hungry? Ana just came down to eat and I think Seth is pretty much done because he's throwing his food around the kitchen and everyone walking near the open door."

"We'll take care of Seth," Elika smiled at his words while cuddling with my arm.

"Oh," Damien's demeanor had suddenly changed as he redirected his words to me, "and James left a few minutes after you left for the roof. I tried to call you, but I think the intercoms are down. I was pretty busy down here so I couldn't grab you, but he said you gave him permission to get more gas for your bike."

My bike?

"Did he go off by himself?"

That bastard took my bike?

"Yeah," He nodded at Elika. "He said he was heading into Sage to speak with Brandon."

"Wait a second," I raised my hand, gesturing for him to stop talking. "He took my bike?" I asked, dumbfounded. I wanted to make sure I was hearing this correctly.

"Well, I mean, you said he could, right?" Damien managed a smile but it quickly deteriorated when he found just how unamused I was by James' antics.

James was the closest thing to a blood relative that she had left in the world. Everyone else was M.I.A. when the demons began to ascend. And no matter what she said, I wasn't going to change my mind and she knew it as well as I did. I was the leader of this group and he was my responsibility. Sure, James could take care of himself, but we all agreed that nobody leaves home alone. Plus, he was a fucking thorn in my ass.

When I looked over to Elika, I could easily tell that she didn't like the idea of me leaving without her again but it didn't matter. I had to bring James back to her safely... after I punch him square in the jaw, that is.

"I know that look and I want no part of it!" Damien turned away, throwing his hands up into the air before he left us alone and headed back towards the kitchen.

Elika waited before speaking, wanting to be sure that my brother was long gone.

"Sam, this isn't-"

"I've heard all the speeches," I stopped her from continuing. "Be careful, right? I know, I know. What's the worst that could happen?"

"Don't even say that," She scolded me. "We're far from most cities and the roads have been crawling with those dogs lately. James can handle it without you. Whatever he's doing, I'm sure he's fine."

"I can handle it too," I answered back. I was just as much an animal as those dogs on the street, and I sure as hell won't be the first to go down in a fight with 'em. "Plus, I mean, he took my bike." I added as a more obvious reason to why I was willing to do this.

"Fine," Elika sighed softly, "but I'm going with you."

"No way," I shook my head in defiance. "You're not coming. One of us needs to stay with Seth. There's no way in hell I'm taking the chance of both of us not coming back."

"We talked once while you were gone for weeks, and the call only lasted about two minutes. I'm going with you and that's that."

"Why can't you just stay here?" I inhaled deeply as I found myself getting annoyed.

"Why are you so against me going with you?" She had a frown across her face.

"Because you should be here with Seth!" I snapped. "You're his mother, Elika!"

"You should be here with him too!" She fired back. "He hasn't seen you in weeks, Sam! When you're gone, all he ever does is stare out the window and ask when his dad's coming home. I can't even answer him because I'm not even sure if you'll make it home each time you're out!"

"You're staying here, and that's the end of this discussion." I made a tight fist to keep myself from growling at my own wife. I needed this conversation to end because, with every word, all I wanted to do was rip something apart just to make whatever the hell it was inside me stop.

"You are not human any more!" Her voice completely ceased it's assault as she proceeded with a much gentler approach. "Listen, whatever that thing did to you, it's changing every everything about-"

"I don't need you to remind me what happened," I cut her off with bitter words. "I was there, ok? I lived it."

"I think I'll always need to remind you what happened," She whispered but I didn't have it in me to argue with her any more. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her but ever since I was bit, all I ever did was harm those I loved. To be honest, I didn't see myself fit enough to be leading anyone any more. 

I can't even spend time with my kid under the constant fear that I could end up hurting him as well. 

I didn't deserve the family I had. 

Not with this thing inside me. 

It was just too dangerous.

Submitted: February 04, 2016

© Copyright 2020 JaayAnon. All rights reserved.


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